People the world over love the aloe vera plant. There are more than 250 species of aloe. Surprisingly, the aloes are members of the lily family. Most of this healthy looking group are native to Africa. They are found in African deserts and the islands of Aruba and Barbados.
According to the Gardenhelper website, they range in size from a little 1 inch miniature to massive plant colonies with hundreds of plants more than 2 feet in diameter. The most commonly known of the aloe plants is the aloe barbadensis or aloe vera.
All the aloes are succulent with their super thick and fleshy leaves. They are also semi-tropical and need to be protected when we have a freeze of any duration. Most gardeners in our area keep their useful aloe vera in containers that can be easily moved into the house or garage if we get a really cold snap. Because the aloe is 95 percent water, it is very frost-sensitive.
Sure, many gardeners use aloe vera year round as houseplants. Just be careful to place them in a very well lit area of your home. But like most of us, the aloe benefits from spending time outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine.
Some aloes will bloom when they reach maturity. Their coral flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds.
Since ancient time, aloe has been used to treat burns because of its analgesic properties. Your grandma may have used the sap from a cut aloe vera leaf to treat your scrapes, sunburns and insect bites. The sap is a thick, mucilaginous gel. You can find aloe used commonly in cosmetics, too, because it said to naturally balance the pH of the skin.
Aloe vera plants are relatively easy to care for in our area. They only asks for a well-drained sandy potting soil and moderate to full light. Be sure to arrange for excellent drainage if you plant your aloe in a pot or directly into the soil. Potting soils with extra perlite or coarse sand are the preferred medium.
No need to “baby” the aloe with too-frequent watering. Only add water when the soil is completely dried out. During the winter, the aloe may become dormant and not need much moisture at all. Got an itch? Got a sting? Get an aloe.